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Scottish stamp duty tax change edges closer

A bill allowing Scotland to set its own rate of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) separate to that of the UK has reached its third stage of debate in the Scottish Parliament.

The Land and Building Transactions Tax (Scotland) Bill proposes a staggered rate of SDLT based on property price as opposed to the flat rate levy currently in place across the UK. It also proposes that a new Scottish body should collect the tax, rather than HM Revenue and Customs.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Scottish finance secretary John Swinney called it a 'progressive tax system.'

He said that the Scottish Government would officially set the rates and bands in September 2014 alongside Budget 2014.

According to the consultation process however, the new system is likely to see the SDLT exemption extended. Under the new system, properties worth under £180,000 - rather than the current £125,000 - would pay no SDLT.

Mr Swinney said: "With parliament's approval the passing of this bill will be a huge milestone for Scotland - it will enable us to set and collect taxes in a more cost effective and fairer way than the UK government."

"This bill will give us the opportunity to better support first time buyers trying to get onto the housing ladder or families buying bigger homes that better suit their needs."

However, some opposition MPs have criticised the delay in revealing the new tax rates.

As reported by the BBC, Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavid Brown said: "Businesses need all the time they can to prepare, and delaying it beyond a year until implementation would pose significant risks to investment."